AFI announces its pick of the year in TV, films

MUMBAI: The American Film Institute (AFI)has announced the year's AFI Moments of Significance. These six events were determined to have had an impact on the world of the moving image during the calendar year 2005.

Each year, AFI Moments of Significance include accomplishments of merit; trends, either new or re-emerging; anniversaries or memorials of special note; and/or movements in new technologies, education, preservation, government or other areas that impact the art film, television and digital media.

TV breaks out of the box: Television content in the US migrated to multiple screen platforms. Most notably:

- Apple Computer introduced a new video iPod in concert with a content distribution deal with ABC that made Lost and Desperate Housewives available for download. Later, NBC Universal announced a deal to deliver more than 300 episodes from prime time, cable, late-night and classic TV shows via iPod.

- Twentieth Century Fox premiered a serial drama created specifically for cellular phones based on its television drama 24. The 24 one-minute long "mobisodes" are based on the series.

- Time Warner and AOL announced the creation of a new broadband network, named In2TV, that allows on-demand access to thousands of episodes of classic television shows via the Internet.

In the wake of the popularity of digital video recorders, these technological breakthroughs meet the consumers' needs for content on demand, but also move the receipt of visual storytelling more dramatically toward an isolated experience, to the point where watercooler phenomena may soon be a term of the past.

As far as television news goes AFI notes that when Hurricane Katrina decimated America's Gulf Coast television brought images of American suffering to the world -- images that revealed the existence of an underclass not often seen on television and exposed the world's most powerful country in a deeply sad and unfavourable light.

In the days that followed, television was not a complacent reporter, but an active participant in the rescue and clean up. When it appeared that local, state and national governments could not respond in a timely manner to the needs of those in trouble, television put a spotlight on the contradictions between what officials were reporting and the images viewers' were seeing in their living rooms.

Reminiscent of television's coverage of the 1968 Democratic Convention, AFI says that this forged a new relationship between television and its audience. The coverage of the hurricane also brought to light the limitations of the medium, where misinformation is embraced as truth and the rush to judgment is fueled by images and words out of context. Ultimately, the coverage was a testimony to the power of television, to bring Americans together, ask difficult questions and offer solutions.

Covergence comes of age: AFI notes that America OnLine's exclusive on-line coverage of the multi-city Live 8 concert proved a seismic moment in global access to live events, a role that has evolved from radio to television and, now, to the Internet.

Over five million viewers logged on to the AOL Live 8 site, drawing a larger audience than MTV and ABC's primetime highlights special, which averaged 2.9 millions viewers. Additionally, in the following week, there were over 25 million on-demand plays of different performances from the concert.

The event, AFI says has demonstrated how the Internet allows a breadth and depth of coverage not possible through traditional television broadcasting. On the day of the concert, fans could switch between events, see live updates, access full artist information, and share views with fellow fans. After the event, audiences could relive it on demand, watching what they want, when they want it.

Technically, it's of note that AOL provided the largest number of simultaneous video streams in the history of the Internet without a single break, instilling a level of trust in the consumer that is essential in the migration from one technology to another.

Movies: AFI further notes that the film community continues to consolidate as both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and DreamWorks, were bought by larger corporations. Both MGM and DreamWorks were founded by movie mavericks -- from Louis B. Mayer to Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, & David Geffen -- and AFI hopes that this trend for consolidation will respect the rich history that marks the cultural legacy and encourage the creative spirit that drives the art form.

2005 marked a fully found artistic reaction to 9/11 and the new realities created in its wake. Art not only has the ability to expose the complexities of the changed world we live in, but also to provide a unifying voice for a country trying to heal while still in conflict.

On television, shows like 24, Sleeper Cell, Rescue 9/11 and Battlestar Galactica all dramatize terrorism, heroism and the struggle to find a common ground.

In theatres, the movies explored these themes in ways that effected audiences physically, intellectually and emotionally: Steven Spielberg's War Of The Worlds the AFI notes moved and terrified audiences with invaders from another world. George Clooney's Good Night, And Good Luck celebrated the challenge and bravery of independent journalists.

The selections were made through AFI's 13-person jury process in which scholars, artists, critics and AFI trustees discuss, debate and determine the most outstanding achievements of the year, as well as highlight these significant events that shape our culture. Two AFI juries, one for motion pictures and one for television, convened in Los Angeles for two days of deliberations.

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